Robben Island

Robben Island is the iconic and most popular swim to do in Cape Town because of the historical and political significance of Robben Island which is a World Heritage Site.

It offers a number of route variations: a Robben Island crossing from Robben Island to Blouberg Beach or Three Anchor Bay, or around the Island or any combination thereof.


Robben Island lies in Table Bay, some 7.4km from the nearest land and within sight of Cape Town. The Island is of considerable historical and political significance to South Africans and is a World Heritage Site. The buildings on the Island are a reminder of its sad history but the same buildings also show the power of the human spirit, freedom and the victory of democracy over oppression.

The first Robben Island swim was recorded swim in 1909 when Henry Charteris Hooper swam from Robben Island to the old Cape Town harbour. It took Hooper just under 7 hours to complete the swim of approximately 11km. Since then hundreds of individuals have done the crossing from or to Robben Island and various points on the coast. Despite the relatively short distances (the main swims between Robben Island and the mainland are between 7.4km and 11km) swimming Robben Island has become a challenge even to accomplished swimmers, mostly due to the cold water temperature. The swim remains an ideal for many swimmers worldwide because of the physical challenge, as well as the historical significance of the Island.

Route Variations

Robben Island Quadruple

  • 29.6km

Robben Island Triple

  • 22.2km

Robben Island – Blouberg – Robben Island

  • 14.8km

Robben Island - Blouberg - Robben Island

Cape Town – Robben Island

  • 11km

Cape Town - Robben Island

Around Robben Island Triple

  • 30km

Around Robben Island Double

  • 22km

Robben Island – Blouberg

  • 7.4km

Whether to start this swim on the Island or on the mainland depends on wind and current direction. Most Robben Island swims are from the Island to Big Bay. The Robben Island crossing has been swum as a double, triple and even a quadruple.

Robben Island – Three Anchor Bay

  • 10.2km

The swim can be done either way, all depends on wind and current direction.

Three Anchor Bay – Robben Island – Blouberg (known as the “Dog Leg”)

  • 19km

This swim generally goes from Three Anchor Bay to Robben Island to Blouberg. The predominant wind dictates direction.

Around Robben Island

  • 11km

The swim is done clockwise or anti-clockwise, depending on currents and the preference of the swimmer.

Location Statistics

Avg. Water Temp

12 - 15 °C

First Crossing

1909 Henry Charteris Hooper

Youngest Swimmer

2004 Aditja Raout

Oldest Swimmer

2014 Otto Thaning

Fastest Crossing

2013 Troy Prinsloo 01:23:54

Route Distance Category Solo/relay Swimmer Gender Country Date Time
Route Distance Category Solo/relay Swimmer Gender Country Date Time
Route Distance Category Solo/relay Swimmer Gender Country Date Time